The Importance of Ethics and Professionalism in PR

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Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” This quote by Potter Stewart sums up the meaning of ethics. As the son of a Pastor, these words have constantly been preached to me my entire life. Acting in an ethical manner was not an option in my home; it was a way of life. As I transitioned into college, I realized that some ethics lessons that I was taught as a child are also essential to having success in the profession that I have selected.

In this blog post, I will be discussing ethics and professionalism in PR. As a student in LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, we are taught the importance of ethics and professionalism in our career fields. As a PR professional, acting in an ethical and professional manner should be a priority. It is important to present yourself as a competent and trustworthy individual. Following the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) code of ethics is expected of all PR professionals. The PRSA code of ethics is designed to help its members carry out their ethical responsibilities. To find out more information about PRSA and its code of ethics click here.

Professionalism is also a necessary quality to have in every career. The standard definition of professionalism is very vague and ambiguous. To see that definition click here. As you can see, I am not a fan of that definition, which is why I created my own definition of professionalism. Professionalism is the act of presenting yourself as a competent, well-mannered and educated individual in the workplace. In the “professional world” you take on a slightly different identity than in your personal life. It is important to act in a professional manner in the workplace and while dealing with clients, because it causes them to respect you. It allows you to create a positive image for yourself. Professionalism is also essential to relationship buliding in the professional world which is a component of success in PR. I discussed the importance of buliding relationships in my previous post about stewardship. If you would like to read that post click here.

PRSA also recognizes the importance of professionalism. Their statement of professional values represents their idea of professionalism. The six professional values are advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyal and fairness. To read more about those values click here.

Ethics and professionalism have been very important during this service-learning project. Working with our client BRAC has shown me the importance of making ethical decisions and acting in a professional manner. If you would like to learn more about the progress that my agency is making on this project continue to follow my blog http:\\ramonhardy13.wordpress.com. You can also follow our agency on Twitter @SpotlightBR. Also, to find out more about BRAC’s missions and initiatives click here.

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An inside scope on service-learning

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Creating a personal blog is something that I never imagined doing. As a mass communication major, I’ve spent time in three different concentrations: broadcast journalism, political communication and public relations. In broadcast journalism, my first concentration, I imagined myself in front of camera. One day hoping to follow in the footsteps of Stuart Scott or Scott Van Pelt, as an anchor for ESPN. Then I transitioned to political communication. That was my “I want to go to law school” phase. After hearing the horror stories of law school, I decided that that was clearly not the path that I wanted to travel. So I was a crossroad. Trying to figure out what concentration would work for me. After speaking with an advisor, I realized that public relations was where I needed to be. It was the perfect fit for my personality and my skills.

As a public relations student in the Manship School of Mass Communication, there are courses, specific to my concentration that I am required to take. One of the courses that I am required to take is PR writing, a course in which I am currently enrolled. The intent of this course is to give public relations students experience writing documents that we will the required to write in our professional careers. Although this is a vital portion of the course, it is not the extent of the course. In this class are also participating in a service-learning project.

So, what is service-learning? Many times when I think about the idea of a service-learning course, I think of it as course in which I will have to volunteer extra time to complete community service tasks. This never really seemed appealing to me. I did not realize that that was the wrong idea of service-learning. A service-learning course helps a student to gain professional experience in a particular field. The service-learning project my class is participating in, is one that I am really excited about.

Our service-learning project involves SCVNGR (pronounced scavenger) and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC). SCVNGR is a geolocation-based gaming application that we are using to attract new customers, increase awareness and create a viral buzz for businesses in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. SCVNGR allows its participants to become acquainted with businesses in their local area by giving them the opportunity to receive rewards and points for completing treks.

We will use the abilities of SCVNGR to help our client, BRAC, achieve its mission of leading economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge metropolitan area. In my PR writing class, 18 students have been divided into four groups. Each group is a PR agency is working for BRAC and has a specific facet of life in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area to focus on. The four concentrations are: Discover BR, Arts and Culture, Get out of Town and Nightlife.

My agency, Spotlight BR, will focus on spotlighting the nightlife of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. We will introduce our audience to mainstream nightlife activities and attractions, as well as unfamiliar nightlife activities and attractions that exist in this area. Our agency is composed of four people who will operate in different roles that will ensure that our client is pleased with our work.

As the design director, I am responsible for look and feel of all campaign materials including creative materials, promotional materials and evaluative materials. This is a position that I am excited to have, because I have the opportunity to work in programs such as Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. This position will also pull me out of my comfort zone, and allow me to gain experience in an area that will be beneficial to me in my professional career.